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Using gymnastics rings to train for rock climbing

Using gymnastics rings to train for rock climbing

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This articles describes how exercises on gymnastics rings can build a high ratio of strength to weight. This is examined in the context of rock climbing, where similar muscles are used and a high strength to weight ratio is crucial. Various exercises and techniques are discussed, ranging from basic to fairly advanced.

This articles describes how exercises on gymnastics rings can build a high ratio of strength to weight. This is examined in the context of rock climbing, where similar muscles are used and a high strength to weight ratio is crucial. Various exercises and techniques are discussed, ranging from basic to fairly advanced.

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Using gymnastics rings to train for rock climbing

  1. 1. Using gymnastics rings to train for climbing Gymnastics rings are an incredibly versatile training tool. While they won’t train your finger strength, they work a lot of muscles important to climbing. They also build a high strength to weight ratio, which is important to gymnasts and climbers a like. I bought my own pair four years ago and haven’t gone back to conventional weight training since. Not only do they provide a tremendous workout, but they are also simply more fun to use than free weights. You can use them for pullups, muscle ups, pushups, leg raises, levers, and more. In addition, the inherently unstable nature of rings requires all your muscles to work together to master them, so your whole upper body is engaged instead of only isolating one muscle at a time. John Gill, the “Father of modern bouldering,” was a trained gymnastic and trained on rings throughout his life. He was famous for his one armed pull ups and front levers. These powerful moves allowed him to excel at bouldering like no one had before him. While there are many other important aspects of climbing to focus on as well, incorporating some ring training can efficiently boost your overall strength and might well find a way into your regular climbing training. Getting started with rings Gymnastics rings are simple to set up and get started with. Although the movements performed on them can be extremely difficult, the rings themselves are a simple device. The popularity of rings as a workout tool outside of gymnastics has been growing. You don’t need the professional set up that gymnasts use; most basic rings consist of a nylon strap that runs through the ring with a buckle on the end. They can be purchased easily online, and for the amount of versatility and training they provide are fairly cheap too . Set up is easy, you simply throw the strap over a beam, branch, or other horizontal pole, and fasten the buckle. The rings can then be lowered for pushups or raised for pullups and dips. Exercises on gymnastics rings While there are many advanced moves that can be performed on the rings, I will stick to describing moves that can more directly help with rock climbing training. On the most basic level rings can be used simply for pull ups. If you don’t have a pull up bar available then rings are great!
  2. 2. Muscle Ups One of the first advanced tricks to learn is the muscle up. Muscle ups work the chest, arms, back, and core… pretty much everything! They start from a dead hang on the rings and proceed like a pullup. However, when you reach the top of the pull you continue pushing yourself up into the dip position. Done correctly this looks smooth and easy, but don’t be fooled! Your first time attempting it will most likely end with wobbling and flailing. If you do succeed you will most likely find your arms shaking uncontrollably as you try to hold yourself up. I’ve taught many people muscle ups, and every one of them struggled and wobbled their first few times! It really makes you appreciate how many muscles gymnastics rings work. Technique is very important when attempting a muscle up. It is important to use a false grip, where your wrist is over the top of the ring, to be able to easily switch from pulling up to pushing into a dip. Practice your dips and and pullups separately until you can transition from one into the other in a successful muscle up. Hanging Leg Raises Leg raises are my go to core workout. They can be done on many things, from pull up bars to railings, but my favorite is leg raises from the dip position of the rings. Not only does it give your abs a great workout, but it also challenges your back, chest, and arms to stabilize you in the process. These are difficult to do. They first require you to be able to do a muscle up and dips. Once you’ve accomplished that though, give leg raises a try. Remember to keep your back straight and your elbows locked as you bring your legs up as high as you can. Mentally focus on contracting your abs as much as possible to get the most out of it. Hanging knee raises are also valuable. Performing them on rings adds so much difficulty that most often I do these instead of the whole leg. After a few sets my abs are burning and my arms and chest are beat. That’s a good workout! Front Levers John Gill shows off his one arm front lever – Wikipedia The front lever is a difficult skill to master. It involves holding your body horizontally from a bar or rings.This requires incredible strength in your arms, back, and core, making it an ideal climbing exercise. John Gill famously performed this skill one handed… now that requires serious strength! Check out this guide for an in depth walk through for tackling the front lever on gymnastics rings.
  3. 3. The strength that front levers build is great for climbing training. While you work on it, remember to progress towards the full lever in stages. Start with your knees tucked towards your chest. When you can hold that position for thirty seconds work on slowly progressing to holding your legs out flat. Keep a flat back and lock your elbows. When you get close to the full lever you can try an exercise called ice cream makers. Hang in the pull up position and pull yourself up into the front lever position, hold it briefly and then lower yourself back down. Sets of these will help improve your lever. More Possibilities… These are the main exercises that I use gymnastics rings for. I used to work on cool strength moves like the iron cross and planche, but the strength that these require doesn’t carry over to climbing enough to make it worth it for me anymore. If you have the desire though, there are hundreds of movements variations on the rings. If you’re looking for a chest workout, one of my favorites is archer push ups. Lower your rings to the ground and get in the push up position. Extend one arm straight off to the side while lowering your self with the other arm. Push back up and alternate arms. This is basically an assisted one arm push up and demands much more strength that normal pulls. Rings allow the extra challenge of lowering yourself below your hands, working a larger range of motion. For added difficulty elevate your feet behind you. The iron cross is one of the most famous ring movements. It involves holding yourself in the air with your arms extended straight out horizontally. This is a much more difficult move and takes a lot of time to develop. Care must be taken when training for it because the move places high stress on your shoulders and elbows. It is easy to injure yourself if your technique is off. Overall, small workouts on gymnastics rings can be used very successfully in a climbing training regiment. The bulk of your training should still be on climbing and finger strength, but rings provide a great opportunity to build body strength. They are a very efficient exercise because of the stabilization required, and just a few sets a weeks will show results. Try them out , and see how much easier overhangs, lock offs, and stabilization become!

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